[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Silk Road city 'under threat'
Exiled Uighur leader critical of plans to demolish parts of Kashgar.
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2009 20:15 GMT
Kadeer says the demolition plan is a threat to the Uighur identity and culture [GALLO/GETTY]

A plan by the Chinese government to demolish parts of the city of Kashgar has drawn criticism from an exiled leader of the Uighur community, who has accused Beijing of destroying the Muslim minority's culture.

The Silk Road city of Kashgar is a market town in China's western Xinjiang region that borders Central Asia and was a meeting point for Chinese and Central Asian traders.

"The demolition of Kashgar Old City is an affront to Uighur identity and is an attempt to assimilate Uighurs," Rebiya Kadeer, a Washington-based exile, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"I lament the loss of such a unique site of world heritage, and call on people across the globe to let the Chinese government know that this demolition robs the world of an irreplaceable community."

Kadeer heads the Uighur American Association, and was a prominent businesswoman in Xinjiang but was jailed in 1999 for allegedly "leaking state secrets".

She was released and sent into exile in 2005.

Despite an influx of Han Chinese immigrants into the area in recent decades, Kashgar is mainly populated by Turkic-speaking Uighurs and other Central Asian ethnic groups such as Kazakhs and Tajiks.

Demolition plan

According to a report on the Xinjiang government's news website, the buildings in the city are dangerous and need to be demolished and rebuilt.

"The ancient city is dangerous and has become susceptible to a serious earthquake disaster," the report said.

"With a history of over 1,000 years it is under constant erosion from the elements."

In February, the government launched a $440m plan to move nearly 50,000 families out of Kashgar's ancient city centre.

Topics in this article
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Anti-government secrecy organisation struggling for relevance without Julian Assange at the helm.
After decades of overfishing, Japan is taking aim at increasing the number of bluefin tuna in the ocean.
Chinese scientists are designing a particle-smashing collider so massive it could encircle a city.
Critics say the government is going full-steam ahead on economic recovery at the expense of human rights.
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
join our mailing list